How Does the First Home Owner Grant Work?

By Geraldine Grones

The First Home Owner Grant is a government scheme introduced in 2000 to offset the effect of Goods and Services Tax on homeownership. Though it is a national scheme, it is funded by the states and administered under their own legislation. Under the scheme, a one-off grant is payable for eligible first home buyers who buy or build a residential property to live in. This grant is not means-tested, which means the eligibility criteria are not based on financial considerations such as income.

Are you eligible for the First Home Owner Grant?
The eligibility criteria vary between states, so it is imperative to check with your lender when you apply for a home loan. But, in general, you may be eligible for the grant if you:

  • are a permanent resident or citizen of Australia
  • are at least 18 years old
  • are buying a new or established house as an individual (not a company or trust)
  • have never received the grant previously
  • have not lived in a residential property which you owned from 1 July 2000
  • apply for the grant within 12 months of settlement
  • will live in the residence for a minimum period of six consecutive months

You can apply for the grant in two ways: either by lodging the application yourself through your state authority or asking your home loan provider to lodge the application for you. The grant is usually paid to your lender at the time of settlement and applied directly to your home loan. If you are building a house, the grant will be approved when your first loan repayment is due.

What are the specific grants and concessions available in each state?
Grant amount varies between states. When you apply for the grant, you can also enjoy additional benefits depending on the rules of your state. Some states can waive or give discounts on stamp duty up to some property price limits. And if you buy or build a house in regional areas, you may be eligible for a larger grant.

State

Grant amount

Maximum property price

ACT

$7,000

$750,000

NSW

$10,000

$600,000 (purchased property)

$750,000 (constructed property)

VIC

$10,000

$20,000 (regional VIC)

$750,000

QLD

$15,000 (as of 1 July 2018)

$750,000

WA

$10,000

$750,000 (properties located south of the 26th parallel of south latitude)

$1 million (properties located north of the 26th parallel of south latitude)

SA

up to $15,000

$575,000

TAS

$20,000 (will be $10,000 from 1 July 2019)

Not specified

NT

$26,000

No limit applies

 

State

Stamp duty exemptions/concessions

ACT

Concessions are available for new or substantially renovated properties valued at less than $562,000.

NSW

Exemptions apply to new houses valued up to $650,000 and vacant land valued at up to $350,000. Concessions apply to new houses valued between $650,000 and $800,000, vacant land valued between $350,000 and $450,000.

VIC

Exemptions apply to new or established houses valued below $600,000. Concessions apply to new or established houses valued between $600,000 and $750,000.

QLD

Concessions are available for houses valued at less than $550,000 or vacant land less than $400,000. The more you pay for your home or land within these limits, the smaller the concession available.

WA

Exemptions and concessions are available for houses valued at less than $530,000 or vacant land less than $400,000.

SA

Off-the-plan stamp duty concession is available for new or substantially refurbished apartment, capped at the stamp duty payable on a $500,000 valued apartment.

TAS

Exemptions and concessions are not available.

NT

The First Home Owner Discount (FHOD) is available to those who enter into a contract to buy an established home from 24 May 2016. This discount is a full concession on the initial $500,000 value of the home. For homes valued above $650,000 and purchased or contracts entered into before 31 December 2016, the concession is capped at $10,000.

Can you use the First Home Owner Grant as a deposit?

The answer to this question can be both yes and no. This grant is not made available to you at the start of your property purchase journey so, from this perspective, you cannot use it as a deposit. However, it will be considered part of your overall contribution to your property purchase so, in this sense, you can use it toward your home payment once it is made available.

You should take note that this grant is not actually paid to you. When you get to settlement, the money is made available to your solicitor to direct as required. Moreover, if you are buying a house and land package, the money is, in some cases, ready to go once concrete blocks have been laid for the property, so the funds can be made available for the construction process.

Can you apply for the grant under the following circumstances?

You are buying an investment property
You can use the grant for an investment property, but you will need to live in it initially. Generally speaking, you have to move into the property within 12 months of purchase and live there for six to 12 months. After that period, you are free to move out of the property and make it available to tenants.

You owned or own an investment property and did not receive the grant for it
If you owned (or currently own) an investment property but have not lived in it for more than six months, you can be eligible for the grant when you buy your first residential property. It varies among states, as well as depends on your individual circumstances, so it is best to check state government websites for updates.

You are a temporary resident
In this case, the answer is no. First home owner benefits are not available for temporary residents buying a property in Australia. Even once you obtain permanent residency, the benefits will still not be available, as you must be eligible for it at the time you sign the contract.

You are buying property jointly with a friend
If you are buying a property together with another person, you must both meet the criteria for the grant to be applicable.

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